- President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (1975)
Born in Aintab (now Gaziantep), Turkey, during a period of turbulence between Armenia and Turkey, Phil Daghlian came to the United States in the late 1920s. In 1931 he graduated from the Bulkeley School in New London, Connecticut, and went to on study at Yale. From that institution he received his B A. in History and the Arts in 1936 and his Ph.D. in English literature in 1941. By that time Phil was already a professional scholar: during his first year in graduate school he had worked on the Horace Walpole papers in the Sterling Library at Yale, editing (with F. W. Hilles) the fifth volume of Walpole’s Anecdotes of Painting (1937). After receiving his doctorate, he put his developing interest in Eighteenth Century letters to work as a research assistant for the Yale Edition of Walpole's correspondence, then taught in the Department of English at Yale until June 1943-after which (1943-46) he was an Instructor in English at the University of Rochester.
Phil joined the Department of English at Indiana University in 1946, moved through the ranks of Assistant Professor and Associate Professor in the following years and was promoted to Professor in 1962. During these years he came to know the workings of the department and the university well as he served in a variety of positions-among them Assistant Director of the Freshman Composition Program, Director of the Indiana University Writers' Program, and memorably (1954-64) Assistant Chairman of the Department of English. Following the death of James A. Work, Phil was the able and obvious choice to serve as Acting Chairman of the department (1961-62).
On June 22,1942, Phil married Agatha McGuire in New London, Connecticut. They had three children: Alice (now Mrs. Martin Kanayan) of Houston, Texas; Beth (now Mrs. Charles R. Evans) of Hilliard, Ohio; and Chuck (more formally known as Charles R. Evans) of Montpelier, Vermont. The Daghlian family virtually grew up with Bloomington and Indiana University. With her special blend of grace and awareness, Aggie shared in the hopes and developments of Phil's career and became in her own right a valued member of the university community. With individual hopes and ambitions, Alice, Beth, and Chuck took direction from parents who were confidently proud of them from their earliest years. Phil is survived by Aggie, by their children, and by nine grandchildren.
Phil's scholarly interest in Eighteenth-Century British writing-in Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, in biography and letters-was matched by his deep concern for the classroom. Not only was he an excellent teacher of both graduate and undergraduate classes, witty and casually profound, stern (when necessary) and (above all) humane; he devoted a great deal of time and energy to making international students feel confident about their abilities in a new environment and to improving communications between the Department of English and secondary schools. He developed special courses both for students who had come from abroad and for secondary school teachers, worked with the English Curriculum Study Center, visited high schools, and chaired a Graduate School committee on requirements for the M A.T. degree. If such books as The Familiar Letter in the Eighteenth Century and Essays in Eighteenth-Century Biography testify to Phil's abiding interest in his specialty, his publications on pedagogy and curriculum development demonstrate his conviction that teaching should be done well at every level. As a fitting tribute to his achievement as professor in the widest sense of the term, Phil received the President's Award for distinguished teaching in 1975.
Indelibly sketched in the memories of those who knew him well is the portrait of Phil Daghlian the human being--a man steadfastly concerned for the welfare of those he taught and of those he taught with. As friend to his peers and mentor to students and younger colleagues, he listened to ideas, sympathized with problems, and counseled about careers—always with care, always with caring. The door to his office was always open, reassuringly so. His characteristic generosity of spirit earned the respect and admiration of the many people whose lives were touched by his wisdom and unassuming style.